Sure, mobile technology sounds great. But how do you actually set up a text campaign? Who do you call first? How do you avoid spamming people? What can you do to establish a relationship with service providers? Our experts answer all your questions about mobile technology and help you develop a mobile strategy for your campaign, political group, or nonprofit.
(right to left)
David Gale - Senior Account Manager, Vibes Media
Justin Oberman - Founder, MOpocket / Rave Wireless
Julie Barko Germany - moderator - Deputy Director, Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet
Kathie Legg - Founding Member, Mobile Monday DC
The conference began with the panelists talking about their favorite mobile moments. David remembered a few years ago when he sat down with a woman in her 70’s and taught her how to text message. She didn’t believe him that texting was used often, so she walked over and asked a teenager with a Sidekick how often she texts, and she said over 5,000 a month! Justin’s favorite moment ironically dealt with his 70-year old grandma, who actually LOVES texting. Kathie’s favorite moment was Working Assets -- who won the Golden Dot Award – who used a list of very active voters and texted them about voting polls. They thought to themselves, if machines are broken, or if lines are too long, what do we do? They came up with the brilliant idea to use SMS to text many people, and if there was a problem they would be notified immediately.
Who’s using mobile technology / demographics?
David answered this question by stating that there’s about 5 million blackberry users and 235 million cell phones in USA… more than 2/3 of America! Data services – anything that isn’t a voice call, such as text messaging, email, content, web browsing -- starts to narrow down the list. Most people can text message, about ¼ of people can go online, about 1/3 can use video. Kathie then brought up microtargeting, and said that minorities have a very large penetration (especially Hispanics). She also talked about how important cell phones really are – there’s about 8.4 million wireless only households in America!
How is the industry organized?
Justin answered this question by saying that Mobile marketing have short-code premier and mobile marketing strategies for download on their website. A short-code is a keyword or a 5-digit code that carriers use to make text-messaging easier. They tend to cost around $500 a month for a code or $1000 for a smartcode (like googl), and it takes 6-8 weeks to activate the code, and 6-8 additional weeks to approve the program. The industry is organized through carriers/operators (Cingular, Sprint, T-mobile, Altell, Verizon) and mvno’s – mobile virtual network organizers – such as Virgin Mobile, Amp’d, Helio, and Boost. Next are aggregators, who are people that work very closely with carriers to guarantee that messages get delivered. For example, in DC there’s Single point. They make sure that every American Idol message gets delivered – Idol makes a deal with a mobile campaign solutions provider, who has a deal with this aggregator. As overwhelming as this may seem, Justin said that it really isn’t that hard to do with a business. In January of this year, 20 billion messages were sent from US to US (about 800 messages per person). Of those 20 billion less than .1% were commercially sponsored / branded in any way, which proves how useful this technology can be to businesses. David suggested that to navigate this space, you should figure out your objectives, then think about how you sent out the messages in the past and try to integrate it into your mobile campaign.
Many people were very concerned in this conference about telemarketers, but the panelists convinced the crowd that since e-mail is free and SMS is not, it’s against the law to randomly send a text message.
Lastly, people asked about future mobile technologies. Justin pointed out that one of the great things with the mobile phone is that it’s the first portable media in your pocket that encompasses text, video, internet and audio (voice) all at once. He pointed out that people (like himself) send images to CNN via their mobile phone, others blog on their phones, and that it will be used more and more often. NFC is also testing out a sort of paypass with cell phones, where all you have to do is touch it to something and money is deducted from your credit card – but that’s a long way away from actually being implemented in the public’s phones. Cingular which has about 60% of America’s cell phone users recently rejected a mobile PayPal plan, so until they implement it, it probably won’t be exist through other plans.